Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Wednesday, May 29, 2024 75° Today's Paper

Hawaii News

Random attacks linked to mental illness

Acts of random violence are rare in Hawaii, and those that do occur are often linked to mental illness, substance abuse or substance-induced mental disorders, experts said.

Police said Friday morning’s shooting spree against motorists from Kaimuki to Aiea appears to have been a random attack. Police said they could find no connection between the alleged shooter and the victims, and no motive for the attacks.

Marvin Acklin, a forensic psychologist who has evaluated criminal defendants for more than 20 years, said that in random attacks "there’s a high likelihood that there’s some sort of disturbed mental state associated with it."

Police said Friday’s shooting began at a traffic signal when Toby Stangel pulled up behind several stopped cars, got out of his BMW and opened fire.

Brook Hart, a longtime criminal defense lawyer and associate professor at the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law, said that in his experience, "When a shooting of more than one person occurs, it’s highly likely that mental illness is involved."

Hart has also been the defense attorney for Adam Mau-Goffredo, who was accused of fatally shooting three people at Tantalus Lookout in 2006. Mau-Goffredo is in the state mental hospital, ruled unfit to stand trial.

Ron Becker, chairman and professor in Chaminade University’s criminal justice department, agreed that random acts of violence are rare in Hawaii.

"When it happens you find that there’s instability — emotional and psychological difficulty — in their world. Normal people don’t go out shooting people on the interstate," Becker said.

Other recent incidents viewed by many as random acts of violence here involved attacks against strangers and assailants who, in most cases, suffered from mental problems:

» May 10, 1997: Monte Louis Young Jr. killed a stranger at the University Avenue Burger King. Young repeatedly hit Paul Ulbrich on the head with a hammer.

Prosecutors said Young, before the attack, asked Ulbrich for the time and for money. Ulbrich said he had neither a watch nor money, angering Young. Young was sentenced to 100 years at the Halawa Correctional Facility.

» June 18, 2002: Jack Wyatt, a longtime writer for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, was jogging along the Ala Wai Canal when Cline Kahue shoved him into the canal, causing Wyatt to hit his head on rocks and suffer fatal injuries. Kahue was also charged with assaulting two others following his encounter with Wyatt. Kahue was acquitted of the charges by reason of insanity and committed to the Hawaii State Hospital.

» July 6, 2006: Adam Mau-Goffredo fatally shot Jason and Colleen Takamori and Manh Nguyen at Tantalus Lookout. He then broke into a private home and held hostage the homeowners and their housekeeper.

» Feb. 27, 2009: Tittleman Fauatea fatally stabbed Wai­anae High teacher Asa Yamashita as she sat on a bench at Ewa Town Center. The case remains pending as Fauatea continues to undergo mental evaluations.

Comments are closed.